The Miss America pageant was held this last weekend. Generally, this is not something I would pay any attention to, much less write about in this column. I could not look any further, however, than the hate spewed on Twitter and Facebook concerning the nationality of Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014.
There is an intense move in the U.S., I feel, toward these backcountry ideas on what it is to “be an American.” It is high time we set the record straight.
I want to start this by pointing out a seemingly obvious fact — the United States was founded as a haven for immigrants. Our Founding Fathers laid a framework that would preach religious freedom and tolerance. Eventually, we evolved to have that include race, religion, gender, and to an extent, orientation (we still have a ways to go on that one). This freedom and acceptance is on what America was founded.
There is this beautiful thing known as the American dream. This is the idea that anyone in the United States can be anything they want to be and no one can stand in their way. The poor can become rich and the desperate can become influential. No dream is too big and no person is too small. I would think that by this, it meant an Indian-American girl born in New York could grow up to be Miss America and the people would rally in her accomplished dream.
Twitter did not see this the same way as I did, apparently. The media picked up more on the despicable racist tweets regarding Davuluri than on the actual competition. When this hit my own feed, I was firstly disgusted at the racist remarks and secondly surprised that not only the Miss America pageant was still a thing, that there was yet an Indian woman to win before now.
It wasn’t just a few isolated tweets, either. Even Fox News host Todd Starnes suggested that "...Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values" and blamed the "liberal judges."
Nina Davuluri seems like an exceptional American on paper — she wants to go to medical school, she is active in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, she openly talks about her struggles with bulimia, and at only 24, she has long been active with feminist issues. From this melting pot of a country, she graced the Miss America stage with its first-ever Bollywood dance. A true portrayal of the values of intelligence, scientific ingenuity, activism in one's social culture, and the retention of one's own nationality — this is the definition of the American dream.
This bigotry is not something that is new to our culture, but it is, especially with social media, beginning to rise as a sign of being conservative. This is not the case and is extremely dangerous to all Americans. America was once synonymous with prosperity, remarkable education, and acceptance towards all. Now it seems to be about Big Macs, Miley Cyrus and racist idiots like Starnes.
In fact, only 63 percent of Americans, and only 50.5 percent of U.S. babies born in 2012, are white and non-Hispanic. The going trend is that the "minority" isn't so much living up to its namesake. Our demographics are drastically changing, but our attitudes are not. Davuluri is a shining example of the greatness still being bestowed upon America. However, the backlash is showing that we might only be moving backwards in a conservative, racist mindset.
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